Debt Collectors Behaving Badly (And How to Make Them Stop)
This situation is troublesome not only because it can cause fear and embarrassment for debt collectors’ victims, but also because such techniques are illegal.
The Slimy Tactics Reported by VictimsWhile repeated phone calls from a bill collector may be irritating, some of the actions that are being attributed to collectors are downright appalling:
- Threats of jail time: Some debtors have reportedly been threatened with arrest—even with arrest at their place of employment.
- Insults: Sources indicate that some collectors have taken to belittling debtors about their level of education and their work ethic.
- Cruel suggestions: Apparently, some debt collectors have gone so far as to suggest debtors commit suicide as a way to remedy their inability to repay their debts.
- Neighbor contacts: It seems some collectors have even ducked as low as contacting a person’s neighbors about debts owed.
Your Rights and OptionsSo what exactly are creditors forbidden from doing? Here’s a summary of what actions are prohibited by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act:
- Harassing a debtor, her family or her friends
- Failing to follow up a phone call with written details about a debt within five days
- Contacting anyone besides the debtor or his lawyer about a debt
- Physically or verbally threatening a debtor
- Suggesting or implying that a debtor can be arrested when she legally cannot
- Lying about the amount of the debt owed
- Contacting the debtor directly when he has known legal representation
- Ignoring a debtor’s written denial of a debt